USING MONO RUNNING LINES
The following are procedures and techniques I apply to the use of Monofilament running lines such as Amnesia, RIO Slick Shooter, Suffix Elite, Flat Beam, etc.. Most are common practice for the "old-timers" but these may be useful tips for the beginning and intermediate flycasters.
Monofilaments tend to become more limp and pliable as water is absorbed. The more limp the line the easier it is to cast without the tendency to tangle, so keep the running line wet.
Tip: a day in advance prepare strips of toweling or other absorbent material the width of the reel spool having a length equal to the running line circumference on the reel, saturate the strip with water, lay it over the mono on the reel and wind the attached shooting head over the strip to reduce evaporation. Now, when you strip off the head to begin casting, the Mono. will be pre-soaked and run smoothly through the guides. Put the strip back in for lunch breaks, etc..
Mono, such as Amnesia (in spite of the name), must be stretched to remove the curl set into them by being wound on the reel. If the curl is not removed before casting you will face the frustration of having to remove frequent snarls (this isnt required if the line is soaked with water in advance).
Tip: as part of the preparation to begin fishing strip out the running line and stretch the whole length by attaching the end to a door handle, tree, post or fishing partner and STRETCH, releasing the tension slowly, until the line will lay without curl. Do this before approaching the stream or entering a boat, once out in the boat the line must be stretched in sections and some curl will always be present.
Running lines are available in various colors and breaking strengths. The limpness varies with both and also by brand. The lines with the greatest limpness are the easiest to cast and produce fewer tangles.
Tip: for fresh water fishing use 20# or 25# test and for salt water use 25# or 30# test . It is important to make the break strength of the leader tippet or class section less than 70% of the running line break strength because Mono. running lines arent very tolerant of any knot, except the Bimini, and you don't want to lose shooting heads in break-off situations.
The amount of running line to put on the spool is determined by the skill of the flycaster. Putting on more than can be cast is a waste of material and spool space. Seventy feet is usally enough, with 100 feet about the maximum that might be needed.
Tip: mono running line is usually packaged on spools containing 200 feet. Three running lines can be made from this by dividing it into 67 foot lengths. This will allow 100 foot casts (67' running + 30' head + leader) - of course, if you can cast 130 feet then use 100 feet of running line.
Tip: the loop provided by the manufacturer on the butt end of a shooting head should be removed and replaced with a braided nylon loop. These loops are available at the sport shops or you can make your own if you have the braided material and splicing needle (35# Gudebrod #570 Butt Leader material and Cortland size large splicing Needle). Be sure that the loop you use has the braid tag end double locked (instructions come with spliocing needle)and the braid sleeve served to the line using either white size A flat Nylon tying thread or a 10 turn nail knot with 10# Mono. (don't use heat shrink sleeving!!!!). A braided loop provides a smoother transition and a more secure attachment to the head, and has the surface friction necessary to produce 100% loop to loop connections.
WARNING: any knot in Mono. running lines, except Bimini type knots, may cause failure at 70%.
In order to distance cast, the running line must be laying or held in loose coils so that it can freely move into and through the rod guides. The question is how to accomplish this, as the line is stripped in, without creating tangles or snagging on something. It might be thought that the problem could be eliminated by using a spinning type reel to hold the line, but that type reel adds a twist to the line requiring some sort of swivel device between the line and the head, and this would catch on the guides. So, we must learn to manage the line some other way.
There are four principle fishing situations each requiring a different technique for handling a mono running line: (1) standing at the shore line; (2) wading in a lake or still water; (3) wading in moving water; (4) casting from a boat.
Tip (1): for shore line situations: the line must be kept off the ground. Any ground contact will almost certainly cause the line to snag on something (even when you are sure there is nothing to snag on) and besides you will step on it causing abrasions which weaken the line. The solution, in this case, is to use a Line Management Device (LMD or "stripping basket" - I like the "Hip Shooter"). The trick in using them is not to move around or wait too long after stripping the line into the LMD. Given time the line settles and inter-twines causing tangles, moving about accelerates the process. To avoid jostling the line while it is in the LMD, move immediately after making a cast. If you must move any great distance then spool the line, the time it takes to strip the line out again is nothing compared to removing a tangle.
Tip (2): for wading a lake or still water, if not using a LMD, the problem is that as the line is stripped in it sinks into the water. When a cast is attempted, the drag on the line as it is pulled from the water severely limits the distance of the cast. In some way all or part of the line must be kept above the surface of the water. A LMD doesn't work well if wading deep because often all or part of the basket will be submerged. There was a time when the line could be looped to the lips, one or two loops were all that was necessary to keep a good part of the line out of the water, and as long as the caster could synchronize the opening of the lips with the cast, to avoid lacerated or bruised lips, the technique worked very well. But, in these days of water pollution, it is advisable to keep the line out of the mouth!
If the wind is light all that is required is to dress the line with floatant and as it is stripped in it will lay nicely on the surface ready for the next cast (the line should be cleaned with soap after using it in this manner to restore water absorbency). In windy conditions you should learn the technique of forming and holding loops in the stripping hand. If the loops are made about 15 feet in circumference, no more than four loops are required for distances of up to 100 feet or so. Because the stripping hand is raised in the process of casting a good portion of the line is above the water when the line is released, which makes a long cast possible.
Tip (3): for wading in moving water: this situation requires holding loops in the stripping hand. The problem is the eddy produced by your body on the down stream side. As the line is stripped into the water it is caught in the vortex of this eddy and twisted around and around, tangling the loops and producing some of the finest tamgles you might ever experience. To avoid this frustration, as you begin stripping the line in, the stripping arm must be extended out over the moving water so that the line is caught and pulled down stream by the current. After a couple of extended strips the current will provide enough force to hold the line out of the vortex and you may return to the normal stripping action until the loop extends down stream about the length of the fly rod. At this point the line is grasped by the fourth and fifth fingers of the stripping hand to form the first loop and, as stripping continues, the stripping arm must again be extended until the current catches the line for the second loop. Continue in this manner until the head is about fifteen feet from the rod tip, then form what will be the beginning of the last loop. Don't forget to extend the arm and have the current catch the line as the last 15' of line is stripped in. Using this technique you should never have to hold more than three loops to accommodate casts of up to 100' or so.
Tip (4): for casting from a boat: the boat situation offers a relatively open and clear deck to strip the line onto, so, it would seem, that the line could be stripped directly onto the deck, and many flycasters do just that. But they would tell you that all too often they step on the line or even when they don't the line will whip under a shoe as it comes swirling off the deck. Not only is this frustrating but it also damages the line. A further complication is the wind, which may swirl the line around and around to produce gigantic tangles, so some type of containment is required for the best results. Laundry baskets, garbage cans and stripping baskets of various sorts are used, but the best type of LMDs are the ones Made by Stan Pleskunas or the "Line Tamer" by Pro Trim that work very well, if $150 doesn't stop you.
A last word of caution, don't strip any more line off the spool than is required for the distance to be cast. Any line not used in the cast will eventually inter-twine and produce a tangle, and this may be disastrous if it happens as a large fish makes the first run.
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(C) 1993, Bill Nash